An online estate agency is accusing a High Street agent of trying to “sabotage” a transaction by sending a touting letter to a vendor.
The letter was sent by Abbey Sales & Lettings, a Suffolk agency, to a vendor who had marketed their property with eMoov.
The letter was worded to apply to vendors with any online agent and included the paragraph: ”We have found that properties marketed by online agents either sell very quickly (because they are well priced) or they tend to struggle for weeks or month at an end before eventually selling, or in worse case scenarios - not at all.”
The letter then says that without the expertise of a locally-based agent it would be easy for a vendor to become dispirited if the property did not sell rapidly.
It continues: “There is a reason online Estate Agency has not taken off in the same way as ‘online’ has taken off in other industries. This is because there is more to do and it is more involved than people initially think and the lack of detail and human touch all combine to hamper your chances of selling.”
Abbey then makes the vendor a specific offer: “Instruct us on a four week basis and we will discount any fees that you have your your online agent from our sales commission when we sell your property.”
Part of a letter from the vendor to eMoov - shown to Estate Agent Today by the online agency - states that ”It is a blatant attempt to get my business by using scare tactics and basically saying the service you offer is sub standard. .... If this practice is not against any code of conduct/law it is in my opinion unethical.”
eMoov chief executive Russell Quirk says this is “a rather desperate attempt by a High Street agent to sabotage one of our listings” and adds that the vendor in question sold the property at full asking price within two days of it being listed on eMoov.
However, Abbey has stoutly defended the approach and says this is a case of “eMoov getting their knickers in a twist.”
Abbey’s managing director, Robert Love, told Estate Agent Today that the letter was sent to sellers using online agencies and was “spurred by being contacted by a number of such vendors who were struggling to get sold and lacking contact from their online agent.”
He insists this is neither a war nor a vendetta on online agents but simply a twist on Abbey’s standard marketing material.
“We have successfully helped people who have struggled to sell with online agents recently, and wanted to help more if we could. We are sorry if our offer to help was not of interest to him, and that we wish him luck with his move.”